NYC Jail Guards Used Force Record Times in 2014

NEW YORK (AP) -

New York City jail guards reported more use of force against inmates in 2014 than ever before — an average of 11 incidents a day ranging from pepper sprayings to punches.

Figures obtained Wednesday show force was used 4,074 times last year.

Officers are required to fill out use-of-force forms every time there’s a confrontation with inmates, including when they are stopping a fight.

Use of force ranges from so-called Class C incidents such as pepper sprayings that result in minor to no injuries, to Class B incidents such as bruises and swelling that can be treated with over-the-counter care, to Class A incidents such as broken bones and deep cuts that require hospitalization.

Norman Seabrook, who heads the powerful 9,000-member Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, said the rise was likely due to guards reporting more in an effort to cover themselves from potential lawsuits, even if they’re legitimately defending themselves from attacks.

“If I physically touch an inmate, it’s a use of force irrespective of an injury happening,” he said. “Absolutely we’re saying, ‘Document everything. Don’t physically get into an altercation but use chemical agents. Spray them. Spray everybody you’ve got to spray but don’t punch nobody out. Just spray whoever you’ve got to.’”

But inmate advocates point to a scathing August review by federal prosecutors that found guards regularly used physical force for perceived slights and signs of disrespect.